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The previous post on climbing dealt with the most basic types of foot-holds. Again, always remember – The feet drive the hands. The more difficult a move, the more you think of clever foot movements, that direct the body into a good position, so your hands can simply go out and balance themselves. Foot – Body – Hand. Foot – Body – Hand. Burn that into your brain🙂

Hands are of course super important. I mean, even on a ladder, you still use your hands to provide balance. So on a wall, you definitely still need to use them, just not to yank yourself up. Here are some tips on how to use your hands:

Entire hand – Closed: This is the most intuitive grip. Here the hold is big enough to put your entire hand into it, and hang onto safely, even with both feet off the ground. These are the holds which you should use to rest on, when you are really tired and you can’t make one more move. Put both your hands on the holds, just lean back a little and let your hands straighten out a little. This helps blood flow into your forearm and eases the tiredness a little. The holds where you can do this are commonly called jug holds.

Entire hand – Open: The only thing intuitive in this is that you move your hands towards a big hold. The moment your hands hit it, you realize you cannot close your hand around it and proceed to fall off😉. This type of hold is usually very huge and there is no way your palm will fit. So don’t try to do it. Try and ensure that your hand is relaxed, fingers are relaxed and that most of your hand is spread out over the hold. Once this is done, try and flex your fingers at the first joint, just a little (like you’re gripping) and push the hand inwards. Now make your move. Do it as soon as you can, unless you’re a great climber – it is hard to hold on for too long.

Finger tips: This is the opposite of the previous hold. Some holds are too small for your palm to close around. So you use your fingers instead. Of course, you’re right in thinking that you could easily slip off and that it will hurt terribly at the start. Yes. You’re right. But its doable. Don’t keep practising only on the big jug holds, you’ll complete more problems but you won’t improve.

There are 2 ways you can use your fingers. On really small holds, the tips your fingers just fit, and you put our thumb on top of the first finger to support it further (full crimp). If you value your tendons, don’t over use this grip🙂. Use it only when no other way works. The other way is when half your fingers fit onto the hold. While this will involve you falling off sometimes, it is much kinder on your fingers (half crimp).

Thumb and Index: Sometimes you have holds that isn’t small, but not huge enough to put your entire hand on. You might then find that these holds can be pinched. Its like pinching someone’s nose. The only difference here is that you hang on😉. The thumb apparently is very very strong, and you should get better at this grip as much as you can.

Like everything else in climbing, there are countless other permutations. These though are the basic hand grips. If you master these, with lots of practise you will be able to quickly recognize where to use which grip. Sometimes its a mixed grip though, and then the fun starts – you have to use multiple techniques to hold on.

The next post, I’ll talk a little more about the other types of hand holds (I mentioned a few here) and what hand positions you can use on those. Happy climbing.


Pink Floyd

Nothing original today but can’t help but marvel at the utter genius of Pink Floyd again, for the millionth time.

Here’s Brain Damage and Eclipse together. Lyrics for Brain Damage and Eclipse.

I’ve listened to them for well over a decade now, again and again and again. But no matter how many times I do it, I never get tired of them. It is relative of course, but this is my blog you know🙂

Animal euthanasia

I’ve been more contemplative than usual (yes, it is possible ;)) these days. Why, I don’t know. Anyway, I wanted to write a small post about euthanasia in general. And how our rules for animals are so different from those we apply to humans.

Let’s say that tomorrow I had an accident where I was paralysed for life and would not even be able to clean myself for the rest of my life. People would have to dress me, shave me and clean my behind – every single f****** day for the next, say 40 years. That will practically be hell for me every day, and I would just be an unpleasant burden for whoever is taking care of me. There’s no 2 ways about it. Sure, that person might say that just the fact that I am alive is a big thing and he/she does not mind doing it.

But that’s missing the point, the caregiver is happy with my presence. I myself would rather have another massive cardiac stroke and die that minute, rather than live that humiliating existence for the rest of my life. But no one will ever listen to my wishes. I didn’t ask to come into this world and once I’m here, I won’t even be allowed to go away. I’m supposed to live like a vegetable till I “naturally” die.

And to make matters worse, even if I went into a life-long coma and was brain dead, I would be kept alive on life- support for 30 years because mercy-killing is a crime and so on. Why? Who decided this for me? Why? Anyway, there’s probably reasons, and maybe someday I will talk of them (once I understand them better).

With animals however, if there’s a stray that no one is adopting or is sick, people might try their best for a while to find them a home, foster them and so on – but eventually they will probably be euthanized. Simple. Problem solved. It is a massive contradiction with how we treat humans.

I don’t claim to have a solution for the problem. Smarter people than me have probably tried and failed. I’m just tired. I’m tired of the imperfections that life has and there being such little that we can do in so many situations. And even if there is a common sense solution, it won’t be applied because some group will come up and find a loop hole. And yet another guinea-pig will be born and will suffer for the so-called greater good:/

I’m tired. Physically. Mentally. This isn’t a rant though. Every word is what I genuinely feel.

The Pro-Life debate

There’s enough material online if you are interested, about whether a woman should be allowed to abort a child. The people who say that the woman should have the choice to do what she wants fall into this group popularly known as pro-choice. The people who don’t fall into this group called pro-life. These aren’t names I chose, just what is usually used everywhere.

For what it is worth, I’m 100% in the pro-choice group – no one but the woman or at the most her partner (to a small extent) should have the right to decide. But recently, an incident occurred that made me briefly wonder if there was a contradiction in my belief system.

I’m a lacto-vegetarian and these days nearly vegan. This means that I do not consume eggs. The logic I’ve tended to use, is that the egg eventually becomes a chicken and I do not want to interrupt that process in any way. That’s always been the main reason whenever people have asked. There are secondary reasons I have, which are that I find dairy farming and forced production of eggs extremely hurtful towards chickens in general. But the main reason has always been – Egg = chicken.. eventually. But one evening, at Trader Joe’s..

I suddenly realized that I was pro-choice with respect to humans, meaning the woman decides to abort a foetus and not let it develop – and I’d be fine with that. With hens however, I was saying I wouldn’t eat an egg because it would eventually (not the artificial eggs that will never become chickens) be alive. There seemed to be a very major contradiction here, that bothered me for a while, because both views are very important to me.

After a bit of thinking I reached a conclusion that it was not possible for me to have any other view with respect to hens. If hens had the ability to think and communicate, and say that they were okay with me eating Egg 1 although it was going to become a chicken, but not Egg 2 for whatever reason – I’d be pro-choice there as well. But hens cannot and will probably never think (thinking as in the way a human thinks) and hence never make a decision. They are hence at the mercy of humans. Hence, I think I take the safer option that no hen would want her chickens to die in a pan and do not eat eggs.

All this was just because I basically dislike contradictions in my life and find living with them to be extremely hypocritical. There maybe loopholes in this above theory as well and many other parts in my life. I’m not saying I’m perfect. Far from it. Just that I make a big effort to stay contradiction free, everywhere – once I realize that there is one. There will be times that I am unable to resolve one, despite my best efforts.

And that.. that’s not fine, I don’t like it – but there’s literally nothing I can do about it. The pain involved in resolving a contradiction might be far too much to take, despite my fairly high endurance levels🙂


If you’ve ever climbed up a ladder, or even a steep staircase you know what it is to climb up. That is really all you need to keep in mind, even while climbing a vertical wall. If you use the right technique, at least until the more complex climbs it can be fairly easy.

The biggest problem is people’s over use of their hands. Even I used to do it all the time. And when I did, after an hour of climbing, my forearms hurt really horribly, I couldn’t even move them at times to clean myself in the shower for a while. Picking up a fork to eat hurt at times. My technique was that bad. Something had to change then, and it all started with always thinking of where to keep my feet. Once my feet placement was clear, I’d think of where to keep my hands. This was hugely relieving.

So lets briefly talk about the different ways in which you can use your feet. There are plenty of technical terms for all these, which you can see in many great videos online. My aim is to simplify it for whoever is reading it, before you go online and watch all those videos.

Big Toe: Wherever possible, try and stand on your big toe. It is extremely strong, a great point of balance and also where your climbing shoes offer the most support. This is commonly called the ‘Inside Edge’ in climbing. Put your big toe on the hold, try and press down and feel it well and then slowly put the rest of the side of your foot connected to the big toe on the hold.

Little Toe: Whenever you find yourself reaching desperately for a hold with your hands, and are just inches away, think of standing on your little toe, and then reaching out. This is commonly called the ‘Outside Edge’ in climbing. Put your little toe on the hold, try and press down and feel it well and then slowly put the rest of the side of your foot connected to the little toe on the hold.

All toes: There are holds where you can’t balance on at all, because they are very small or too thin at the top to stand on. The best way to approach such holds is front on. Look at the hold, loosen your toes up and try and place all of them evenly on the hold. Once they’re there, again focus on the big toe and push it down into the hold. Try and move off this hold as soon as you can, as it’ll require a lot of calf muscle strength to stand on it.

The foot: Sometimes there’s no good footholds at all and you need to try and climb up the wall itself. In such cases, make sure you have as much of the foot on the wall as possible. This is called a ‘Smear’. Your hands need to be gripping holds really well while doing so. This foothold is one of the few where you need to be further away from the wall. Hold the handhold well and lean away from the wall. Look down, carefully place as much of your foot on the wall as you can. Press down. Move. Repeat for the next foot. If you do this right, it can be very helpful. But it is very easy to get it wrong as well, and you can easily slip off.

Of course, there will be numerous variations of the above, but if you keep just these 4 techniques in mind, as you’re climbing each time – life will be much simpler.

Have fun though. Never forget that in the end – this is supposed to be fun. If you never get all this, but enjoy your time on the wall that’s fine. Unless you are a professional and earn your livelihood via climbing, there’s no need to take things seriously and swear or get upset each time you fall off the wall.

Various little hikes

Another place-holder post to list off the little parks that I’ve now hiked at from that ’60 Hikes in 60 miles around Seattle book’ and elsewhere. I’ll probably miss things, but I’ll update this post as I remember.

  • Camp Long
  • Carkeek Park
  • Discovery Park
  • Washington Park Arboretum
  • Woodland Park & Green-lake Park
  • Golden Gardens Park/Beach
  • Volunteer Park
  • Alki Beach
  • Gas Works Park
  • Lake Union (Paddled)
  • Ravenna Park
  • Cowen Park
  • Burke Gilman Trail

Next up are:

  • Schmitz Preserve Park
  • Seward Park
  • Blake Island State Park

Climbing – 2

In this post I’ll talk a little bit about why the 3 key points are important, and then talk a little about a few other basics. So to recap, the 3 most important points are:

  • Think feet before hands
  • Breathe on the wall
  • Stay close to the wall

So why feet? The most instinctual thing when you are off the ground, is to think about what you need to do, to stay up and not fall. And that translates into grabbing whatever you see first, really hard and not letting go. That will not work. Look at it logically. Look at the size of your biceps and triceps. Now look at the size of your thigh muscles, front and back. Its almost certain that your thigh muscles are larger, and hence they can take much more stress than your arms. Your arms are there primarily to balance you, not the other way around.

Why breathe? If you don’t breathe deeply on the wall, not all your muscles receive enough oxygen and hence get tired faster. This almost always results in flawed decision making, grabbing at holds, not taking time to look at where you’re putting your feet and eventually just falling off. If you breathe, you have way way way more time on the wall. And more often than not, you will be able to complete problems that you thought you would not be able to complete.

And staying close to the wall is sort of linked with the first point. You want to give your arms as little work as possible. The further you are from the wall, the more you are reliant on your hands to hold you up. And if that happens, you’re going to fall off. Again.

Of course, there are exceptions to all these rules, but largely if you internalize these principles and try and apply them whenever you climb, you’ll be in good shape. In the next post, I’ll talk a little about the basics of foot and hand position.